SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


New Bereavement Group Remembers Children Who Died


February 18, 2008
Monday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - Bereaved families that have experienced the death of a child now have an opportunity to meet with others on a regular basis who have endured similar tragedies.

The Ketchikan chapter of The Compassionate Friends (TCF), a national self-help organization for families that have had a child die, will hold a monthly meeting on Thursday, March 13 at 7 pm at the Pioneers Home first floor conference room, 141 Bryant Street. Meetings will be held each month on the second Thursday at the same time and location.

"This area has long needed a bereavement organization where families could talk about their loss publicly without feeling out-of-place," said new chapter co-leader Karen Pitcher. "After your child dies, no one wants to talk with you about your child probably because they are afraid of making you feel bad. The irony is that talking about your child helps you - no one wants their child forgotten. And studies have proven that tears are an emotional release that helps you to feel better."

The Compassionate Friends is a national non-profit organization with nearly 600 chapters in the United States and locations in every state. Chapters welcome immediate family members to attend including grandparents and siblings age 13 and up. Meetings are for all families regardless of race, religious orientation, economic background, or the cause and age of the child at death, from pre-birth up.

"The death of a child turns the whole family upside down," added chapter co-leader Jodie Haseltine. "Through our shared experience, we will be able to talk about the loss and learn coping techniques that will help us in our journey toward the positive resolution of our grief."

TCF meetings last approximately two hours. Those attending will be able to discuss what happened to their child or anything related to their grief. The choice to remain silent is also respected. Occasionally there will be a special topic or speaker for part of the meeting. Refreshments are also served.

The chapter is seeking grief books to create a lending library, and will have a selection of handout brochures on topics related to the death of a child. There are no fees or dues charged to attend, although love gifts are accepted in memory of the children of the chapter and will be used to publish a chapter newsletter, further outreach in the community, and cover other expenses.

"The Compassionate Friends welcomes the Ketchikan chapter," says TCF Executive Director Patricia Loder. "Our mission is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive. The Ketchikan chapter will help us toward that mission."

For more information about local chapter meetings call Karen Pitcher at 225-2652. TCF Ketchikan's steering committee consists of Pitcher and Haseltine as well as Bett Jakubek and Dave Pitcher. For more information about the national organization, call toll-free 877-969-0010 or visit



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